The 4 Pillars of WordPress Security
WordPress Security Best Practices for 2023
43% of websites use WordPress as their content management system (CMS). WordPress is the top choice for most WordPress website owners when it comes to selecting a content management system, but as the world’s most popular CMS and vast market share, attackers are heavily focused on targeting WordPress sites.
When the proper steps are taken to secure your WordPress website through regular maintenance and following best practices for day-to-day use and account management, WordPress security is just as strong as any other platform
To help you secure your WordPress installation and make the web a safer place, we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide on maintaining a secure WordPress website when you update or launch your website to keep your site safe and secure. Below, we’ll cover how secure WordPress really is, its main vulnerabilities, and the Four Pillars of WordPress security.
Overview of WordPress security: is WordPress secure?
Before we dive into the WordPress security guide, it’s important to understand just how secure WordPress is as an open-source platform.
In general, yes, WordPress is secure. Many of the world’s most popular websites use WordPress and the platform offers plenty of security features to keep any site safe. However, that doesn’t mean your WordPress site isn’t completely secure from attacks.
Sadly, WordPress has a bit of a reputation for being open to security vulnerabilities. Many businesses have experienced WordPress security issues – including big names like Reuters. In these events, security is compromised by not keeping the WordPress software and plugins up to date and ignoring important security best practices like adopting secure WordPress hosting from Kinsta, limiting login attempts and using a web application firewall (WAF).
If a WordPress website is using an outdated version of the WordPress core software, has bad or poorly maintained plugins, and operates on a poor level of system administration, then the website’s security will be compromised and this goes for any platform you choose. This is also the case if essential web and security knowledge is lacking or if there has been an admin or server credentials leak. You’d be surprised how many people share this sensitive information over email putting their WordPress installation at risk.
As such, it’s important to understand cybercrime and stay on top of industry best practices to keep your WordPress website secure.
When looking at the security of WordPress sites, think about it like this: WordPress itself is not a perfectly secure system. Not because there is anything wrong with the platform, but because maintaining a risk-free security system would be impossible in today’s world of evolving cybercrime.
Instead, think of WordPress security as a process of risk reduction. Applying the right security measures and controls will make a big difference in lowering your chances of getting hacked.
While WordPress security vulnerabilities exist, there’s also an efficient team that works to discover and fix them with updates and patches – which is why it’s so important to maintain your website properly. The WordPress security team includes around 50 security experts, researchers, and lead developers that work constantly to improve the platform’s web security.
Does WordPress Have Built-In Security?
Yes, WordPress does have built-in security features. However, you still need to actively protect your WordPress site, specifically the “wp-admin folder”.
WordPress may be susceptible to security issues, but no website management system is completely safe. The platform’s own security measures are in place to protect the core software. So, relying on these security features alone isn’t necessarily good enough if you customize your site with a WordPress plugin or two.
If you don’t actively protect your site, you could face many security threats. As such, you need to make sure you follow security best practices and consistently update your site to protect it from different types of hacks and attacks.
Most security issues are the result of either poor coding or webmasters who don’t look after their site properly, and not from a lack of security options from WordPress.
Why website security is so important
Website security is vital in today’s world of cybercrime. Web security prevents hackers and cybercriminals from getting into your site and accessing sensitive information.
If a website doesn’t have proper security measures in place, it runs the risk of spreading malware and attacks on other networks, websites, and IT systems behind the web application firewall (WAF).
As technology advances and becomes a bigger part of everyday life, we rely on websites to store all kinds of sensitive data. Website security ensures this information is safe.
Hacked business websites can be damaging to both the business and its customers. If your site is hacked, it can have detrimental effects on your customers’ sensitive information and on your reputation. Just look at the recent Twitch hack that exposed things like the company’s payment information and source code.
Globally, around 30,000 websites are hacked each day, and website security has to be a top priority for all website owners.
7 main WordPress vulnerabilities
WordPress security issues cover seven main areas. Each of these security concerns provides a different way for hackers to enter your site.
Backdoor hacks happen when attackers find hidden passages to bypass security encryption and access a site. This could be through wp-admin, SFTP, FTP, cross-site scripting (XSS) and so on. Once backdoor attacks are unleashed, they can result in cross-site contamination hacks across a server.
Backdoor malware is generally encrypted to look like WordPress system files. It bypasses the normal authentication procedure for a WordPress site so that hackers can gain access.
Brute Force Attacks
A brute force attack is when hackers are able to access your website after you leave your WordPress login page on the default URL after installation. Hackers use various approaches to try out different name and password combinations until they gain access to your site.
While brute force attacks aren’t always successful, you still want to avoid their possibility. In some cases, brute force attack attempts can slow down your WordPress site by overloading your server.
There are three main ways that you can limit this security vulnerability:
First, use an advanced and secure password – preferably a long password with capital letters, numbers, and special characters.
Second, hide your WordPress login page.
Third, enable two-factor authentication on your site for an added level of login security. This will help to limit login attempts.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
Similar to brute force attacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are when hackers send many requests to a server. This eventually causes the server to crash. Hackers can use multiple infected machines around the world to create potentially disastrous attacks.
You can avoid DDoS attacks by using secure web hosting and network services like Cloudflare. Secure, managed hosts quickly pick up and respond to suspicious activity through carefully managing web server security.
Bad Security and Access Management
Poor levels of security and credentialing can also pose a security vulnerability and give hackers access to your site.
When WordPress users set up their websites, they have the option to create five different user roles with different levels of access to the website. These levels of access and credentials include administrators, editors, authors, contributors, and subscribers.
An administrator is the highest level credential with the most power over the website. They have complete access to every bit of data that the site covers – including things like banking details. If a hacker gains access to administrator credentials, they can do anything with the website.
Always be extremely careful about who you give access to and what levels of access you control. Security issues could even come from within. Only assign administrator access to people who are trustworthy enough for the responsibility.